Oregon neurosurgeon calls for 1 dedicated COVID-19 facility to benefit other area hospitals


A neurosurgeon in Eugene, Ore., recently proposed that the city's COVID-19 patients be moved to PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center University District to allow other hospitals to focus on non-coronavirus cases, KEZI reports.

This would benefit other Eugene hospitals "who are basically sitting on their hands right now," according to Glenn Keiper, MD.

The neurosurgeon devised the plan with Tony Ballinger, CEO of KeiperSpine & Spine Surgery Center of Eugene, after hospitals noted a decline in patients since Oregon Gov. Kate Brown's executive order required facilities to postpone elective procedures.

Dr. Keiper suggested that SHMCUD be the designated COVID-19 facility, so that RiverBend Hospital in Eugene and Springfield, Ore.-based McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center could focus on non-coronavirus cases. 

Hospital administrators turned down the request.

Lane County Public Health was considering a triage center, but determined that it is not needed at this time.

The following joint statement was provided by Peace Health, McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center and Lane County Public Health:

"The decision to suspend elective surgeries and the location at which COVID patients are treated as two separate, unrelated matters. The decision to suspend elective procedures — those that could be safely delayed — was made with the combined goals of: Slowing the spread of COVID-19, preserving personal protective equipment, keeping all of our caregivers safe, and complying with an order from Gov. Kate Brown.

This occurred through close collaboration and in agreement with our medical staff and surgeon partners. The Eugene-Springfield communities are fortunate to have a talented and caring medical community.

We leveraged guidance from infection prevention and public health experts to determine where COVID-19 patients are treated. Additionally, COVID-19 patients may need critical care and other services that are not located at the University District campus. This decision also takes into account that patients who test positive but are asymptomatic can arrive at any hospital. And, as we now know that the virus has spread through community exposure, it is impossible to contain it to a single hospital.

Our decisions are grounded in ensuring the safety of our community members, patients and those who provide care for patients. That’s why, in our preparedness efforts, our medical centers have established dedicated areas for suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients. Some of our medical centers have also set up alternative triage sites near the emergency departments to safely screen patients with respiratory symptoms. All preparedness efforts ensure that individuals suspected or confirmed to have  COVID-19 are separated from other patient care areas. Each medical center is focused on delivery of safe, excellent care to all patients during this global pandemic.

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